Katrina study to examine people, plants and the rats

More than eight years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, a team of Tulane University ecologists, sociologists and geographers is joining forces with other national experts to better understand how rebuilding after a disaster can affect human and ecological well-being.

The study will examine how the incidence of potentially deadly pathogens carried by rats, such as leptospirosis, bartonella and hantavirus, corresponded with Katrina’s flooding.

It also will examine how post-Katrina activities, such as debris removal and management of vacant lots, have influenced the distribution of rodent-borne pathogens.

“The overarching principle is: Can we improve the way cities are managed after disasters,” said project leader Michael Blum, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Tulane.

The work will include one of the largest ecological studies of urban rats ever undertaken.

The study, which will be carried out in the urban core of New Orleans, will also include mailed surveys and in-person interviews, along with plant inventories and geographical analysis.

The project is one of 21 across the nation being funded this year by the National Science Foundation’s Coupled Natural and Human Systems program, which addresses how humans and the environment interact. Tulane’s share of the $19.4 million program is $1.4 million.

Team members from Tulane are geographer Richard Campanella, sociologist Kevin Gotham and ecologist Caz Taylor.

Loyola University to offer social media workshops

Loyola University’s Center for Nonprofit Communications will offer a free workshop Monday that will give New Orleans nonprofits guidance on navigating today’s social-media world.

The workshop is set for 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Room 331 of Loyola’s Communications/Music Complex. It is open to all local 501(c)(3) certified nonprofits.

During the workshop, Loyola professor and social media expert Andrew Nelson will discuss how nonprofits can use social media to increase awareness of their organization and establish an online presence.

“Whether it’s analytics or editorial ideas, even the smallest nonprofits need to know the fundamentals of social media,” Nelson said. “Loyola’s School of Mass Communication and the Donnelley Center can help you get started at this event.”

The workshop is the first in a series catering to local nonprofit organizations. Workshops focusing on event planning and promotion will be held in the spring semester.

Space for this event is limited. Nonprofits should RSVP to donnelleycenter@gmail.com to reserve a spot.